‘Burble burble intersex burble social construct burble burble trans women are women!’ Sally Hines on Woman’s Hour

So, as promised, here is an annotated transcript of yesterday’s feminist death match between Sally Hines, Professor of Sociology and Gender Identities at the University of Leeds, and our very own Kathleen Stock, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sussex, very ably adjudicated by Jane Garvey.

I’ve done kind of what I do when I annotate most texts. Sarcasm, interrogation, incredulity, and analysis….welcome to my marginalia…

We all know how it went, but, enjoy the re-run…. 🙂

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JG: What are sex and gender and what explains the current argument around them? *Introduces Kathleen and Sally*

JG: Okay Sally, in simple terms, I’m starting this one with you, what are sex and gender?

SH: So, sex, I would argue, is a very complex mix of chromosomes, hormones, and genitals…

Shall we talk about gametes or reproductive function, Sally? No, best not eh?

So, we are talking about biological factors, but we’re not talking about anything at all which is straightforward…

It’s COMPLICATED peoples!

So, we’re talking about a complex mix of factors which especially in the West have often been seen in a binary framework…

JG: Hang on, sorry, *slight incredulity* binary framework?

SH: So, sex is believed to divide people into two categories of male and female.

Sally Hines, Professor of Sociology and Gender Identities – THAT IS NOT A FUCKING BINARY. I have sneaking suspicion I am going to spend the best part of the next five years screaming ‘That is not a binary’ at clever-stupid people. A binary is a conceptual hierarchy which is formed by taking a term with a dominant positive value and creating a subordinate value by negating the privileged qualities of the dominant term. Masculine/Feminine is a binary. In fact, it is the ur-binary, to the extent that ALL of the binary pairs which structure Western thought (mind/body, reason/emotion, thought/sensation, universal/particular, one/many etc.) are gendered, and without exception, the ‘positive’ pole of the binary is masculine. Male and female is not a binary, it is a natural difference. The problem arises because Western thought is so thoroughly gendered that it seems people are incapable of thinking the difference ‘male/female’ without thinking it’s cultural hierarchization, or, to return us to the point we keep making – our opponents don’t seem to be able to think sex without gender. (We might think here of another natural difference, say ‘light/dark,’ which is thoroughly saturated with hierarchical value. But let us all agree, despite the fact that this pairing has always been given within a system of binary value, we can all recognise that there is such a thing as ‘light’ and ‘dark,’ and that they exist outside of that system of value, as a natural difference). The fact that binary hierarchies are an axiomatic feature of Western thought is largely where this batshit idea that ‘male’ and ‘female’ are Western constructions is getting its traction from, I think. There are human societies in which the relation between pairs has been thought in a more horizontal and interpenetrating way that in the West – the Taoist image of the Yin/Yang would be an instance of that. But we should, however, note, that cultural systems that have been less hierarchical in their thinking of pairs have still thought those pairs on the basis of the ur-pairing ‘male principle/female principle,’ because the sexual difference between males and females is universally given, not culturally various, and is the fundamental structural distinction of all human society, evah. So please, for the love of the goddess, stop saying that Westerners or ‘colonialism’ invented male and female people. It’s ahistorical Western myopism, unfathomably stupid, and racist as fuck.

JG: Go on

SH: Okay, so, and gender, um, is the way in which a society understands or experiences these sex differences…

Hold onto that thought Sally. You can do it!

Again in the West, these have largely been understood until quite recent times in terms of a binary framework…

Hurrah, she said something correct. Well, except gender still is…again, not thinking the difference…

….so, male and female

DOH! THAT’S SEX DOOFUS. IT WAS GOING SO WELL FOR A MOMENT THERE.

JG: And these understanding are…less well understood, or more widely challenged, how would you define it?

SH: I think that when it comes to sex many scientists are arguing, um, have indeed argued, but but, more so are arguing…that that the binary framework…

Liking the stammering here, could it be because you’re about to talk total crap?

…the simple reading of male and female, is quite a simplistic and very reductive way of understanding a very *complex* procedure

It’s COMPLICATED people! Repeat to fade.

I wonder Sally, if it’s so complicated, how you might explain, how all human societies, for whom we have cultural records, seem to have been able to make this distinction, mmmm?

Um, similarly…

No, NOT similarly

The way gender has been understood in contemporary society has broadened out, and young people especially, are experiencing and understanding their gender as more diverse than a binary male female [DOH] framework allows for…

It’s like the 70s and 80s never happened.

Also, can you STOP with this constant appeal to the ‘young people’ to leverage your baseless idea that this crap must somehow be revolutionary and anti-status quo. Firstly, as suggested above, it’s ahistorical. These kids did not invent gender fucking. It’s been going on in cycles throughout history. Second, it ends up descending very quickly into patriarchal ageism, and is being deployed in concert with a thoroughgoing trashing of the legacy of second wave feminism, which is anything but revolutionary, and relies on the age-old fracturing of genealogy between younger and older women. Thirdly, these kids have been brainwashed Sally, and you are participating in that brainwashing.

JG: *no nonsense voice* When a baby is born, the first thing that happens…anyone who’s had a baby will know this…the first thing that happens, is…obviously you ascertain that it’s alright, and then, you find out, it’s biological sex.

SH: Yup

You sound a little aggrieved there Sally, or maybe I’m imagining it?

I mean, I think, using the term ‘assigned female or male at birth’ okay, rather than ‘male or female at birth’ is a really useful way…

You seem to be confusing ‘useful’ with ‘obfuscating for ideological purposes’ there Sally.

…of looking at the ways in which sex can be understood as something social…so what’s that’s doing then, is arguing, is kind of pointing to the ways in which someone, um, usually a doctor, in this instance, is making a decision, they’re making a presumption, about what sex, um, that baby is, um, and as we’ve seen, um, with intersex, that’s clearly not always the case.

This is a GREAT illustration of what work the intersex issue is doing here, and exactly why they have appropriated the ‘assigned’ linguistic structure. Because it is only in the very few instances that sex is not readily observable that this batshit idea that sex is not simply ‘observed’ but is in some sense ‘decided’ or ‘constructed,’ seems able to gain ANY traction.

JG: *exasperated exhale* Okay, I think a lot of people will take issue, including, I suspect, Kathleen, so, off you go Kathleen, tell us.

KS: Well, I agree, there is, we are increasingly good at understanding er, intersex variation, so, disorders of sexual development, um, and a very very small number, a subset of people with those disorders, are atypical chromosomally, or sometimes, for a very small number, of particular disorders, namely AIS [Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome] and CAH [Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia], you might get an XY male with a feminized genitalia, or you might get an XX female with a virilised genitalia, so, that’s not the 1.7% of people we are always being told are intersex…

For an excellent breakdown of Fausto-Sterling’s highly dubious 1.7% statistic, see this thread by @mrkhtake2.

JG: It’s tiny

KS: It’s a very very very small number, like, one in twenty thousand I think for CAH, and and, but I think it’s the wrong way to think of it that a doctor looks at a child, a neonate, and say, ‘okay, I’m going to assign a sex.’ What they do is they do genetic testing and blood testing and they work out which variety of disorder this child has, and then there’s a standard, um, y’know, for the vast majority of intersex children there’s an absolutely standard route to recording male or female sex…

JG: But as you say, this isn’t a common problem this, it happens, we know it does…

KS: But it’s also, sometimes, in the rhetoric of ‘sex is a spectrum,’ um, and the assigning of sex, as if it’s a social decision on the part of the doctor, it’s to gloss over the medical procedures, that are pretty well understood now, which result in predicable outcomes for whether this child is going to be counted as male or female.

*Pom poms* This is an EXCELLENT point, and one it’s worth underlining. The whole rhetoric of ‘assigning’ depends on a historic set of procedures for dealing with intersex children, which, as we know, were coercive, invasive, and traumatizing. My understanding from listening to the intersex advocates is, as Kathleen points to here, that these subjective and coercive determinations are no longer clinical practice, and that, far from developments in science showing us that ‘sex is a spectrum,’ increased scientific understanding has allowed us to more accurately determine the sex of children who are born with some degree of ambiguity in their sexed phenotype. It should also be noted, that the very existence of ambiguity in a tiny number of instances, and the fact that they occasion clinical procedures, is also evidence of the fact that in the vast vast majority of cases, no such ambiguity exists, and in such cases, the phrase ‘assigned sex/gender at birth’ is meaningless ideological garbage.

JG: Sally

SH: Okay, okay, yeah, I mean, um *awkward laugh* neither I nor Kathleen, um, are scientists…

Well don’t call on scientific ideas to buttress your ideology then lady.

…there are many scientists however that are pointing to the simplistic understanding of sex,

No, there isn’t. The majority of scientists and medical professionals are having no truck with this nonsense. You have a few ideologically motivated people in the sciences that are invested in troubling the male/female difference, and you endlessly regurgitate and appeal to this, for political reasons, against the preponderant weight of scientific thinking. It’s been said before and it will be said again – you are the climate change deniers of the left.

…um, in the way that that Kathleen’s just talked about…

You’re confused there champ. You said something vague and sweeping while constantly appealing to the term ‘complexity.’ Kathleen said something precise and detailed, and in the process, handed you your ass. And now you’re scrabbling to find it. Understand this: Your vague use of the word ‘simplistic’ carries as much logical force as your vague use of the word ‘complex.’ You don’t get to win an argument by arrogating complexity to yourself and simplicity to your opponents. ‘Show not tell’ Professor Hines.

…okay, and this has also been long recognised in many non-Western countries, um, who have understood that people are often not simply male of female…

TWO-SPIRIT KLAXON. Misrepresentative, appropriative, racist bullshit. HOW THE FUCK HAS THE UNIVERSITY GIVEN PEOPLE WITH TUMBLRISED-BRAINS CHAIRS??????? (Neoliberalism, customer service, ‘impact,’ student satisfaction burble burble)

…and just to say that it doesn’t kind of affect very many people, or it’s a minority problem, or disorder, um, I think is kind of, that’s ignoring the way that lots of young people now are experiencing their lives and their sense of gender, um, as something which is non-binary, which is neither male nor female…

JG: Okay, I can see that you’re struggling with that Kathleen, very briefly if you can.

KS: Well, we’ve moved there, Sally’s moved there, from talking about a medical issue to a social issue, and whether young people feel non-binary or not, that’s got absolutely nothing to do with intersex, those two things are completely distinct.

Well, QUITE. But hey Sally, look on the bright side, you have very usefully exhibited what is at stake in the attempt to undermine the existence of sexual dimorphism. You are invested in an ideology that wants to define the determination of the being of men and women on the basis of identity, and it follows from that that you must undermine the idea that that being depends on sex. (Can someone rustle me up a Guardian journalist or two to come and mansplain to me about how nobody is trying to undermine human sexual dimorphism?) To do that, you must try to unsettle the difference between male and female, and – accompanied by Judith Butler and stoopid notions of social construction that seem to think that because concepts are social constructions everything they name is a simple construction as well – the instrumentalization of intersex conditions is the main way you try and go about that (so yeah, it’s not an accident you came out with intersex burble, is it, really?) Ultimately, the aim is to be able to make people believe that male people can be female people (and female people male – although, if that was all this was about, none of this would be happening, because, y’know, sex and power and shit, we’ll get onto that shortly…). And so, you have to insist that the difference between male and female is one that we can move around at whim, according to our own desires. We can’t. And to believe we can is the very opposite of ‘progressive.’ It is a form of absolute idealism which arrogates to humans – and the power of human naming – the ability to bring the whole world into existence. It is, in short, a god-complex. And an age-old patriarchal one at that.

SH: I’m not talking particularly about intersex…

KS: Well you were originally

Indeed.

SH: But I used it as an example of how sex itself can be diverse…

And as we’ve demonstrated, it doesn’t do what you want it to do. So, Stop. Appropriating. Intersex. People. Already.

JG: I appreciate that you both feel very strongly about this, I worry, somewhat, on behalf of our audience, that we’re getting up a cul-de-sac, that very few people will actually travel down in their real lives. What we do know is that the lives of women, on the whole, can be rather challenging Sally, and sometimes more restricted, and frankly, women can often feel more vulnerable, than their born male counterparts, that is simple fact, isn’t it?

SH: *pause* It depends who you are including in the category of woman, okay?

OKAY!!!!!!

So, there you’re saying, are you saying that trans women are not women? Um, yeah, women, cis women, okay…

OKAY!!!!!

JG: Cis women, a lot of people don’t know what that means, what do you mean by that?

SH: Okay, so I’ll explain, so so, women who are assigned female at birth…? Okay?

OKAY!!! Love the rising intonation here. Yeah Sally…Jane, Kathleen, and the assembled women of the nation all think you’re talking shit…

Um, women who haven’t transitioned, okay? Yeah? Absolutely, have a lot of difficulties in society, but arguing for trans rights, and arguing that trans women are women, doesn’t take away, from recognising that we live in a patriarchal sexist society…

It doesn’t take anything away from that recognition, even though I am apparently unable to appear on the most important womens’ programme in the UK and straightforwardly affirm without hedging, introducing trans women, and calling women by a prefix that they have repeatedly and clearly rejected, that women are oppressed as women.

Also while we’re here, let’s note that for people who proclaim to be all about smashing binaries, you have yourselves created a new binary – the cis/trans binary. The cis/trans binary, unlike the female/male difference, is, actually, an axiomatic binary. It is axiomatic in that the category ‘cis’ is formed entirely by inversion from the category ‘trans.’ Thus, while trans people have a gender identity that ‘doesn’t match’ their sex, we have one that ‘matches.’ Trans ideology therefore imposes a gender identity on non-trans people, despite the fact that we keep telling them we don’t know what it means, have no experience of one, and reject it on theoretical and political grounds. And the nature of this attribution gives the lie to the claim about the hierarchy of power at work in the ‘cis/trans’ binary. Ostensibly, the cis/trans binary names the power cis people have over trans people, and it works in that sense to flip the hierarchy of oppression between male and female people, posit female people as the oppressors of trans women, and hence invalidate women’s political claims and resistances (it is this mechanism which allows the trans rights movement to analogise women with white supremacists, and to claim our exclusions are of the same type as segregationists). However, binaries always work by the ‘inferior’ term being formed by negation of the privileged term, and by the social group identified with the privileged term possessing the power of naming and constructing the binary. That trans rights has successfully created a binary which imposes a name on the ‘other’ term against their wishes, in a manner which they expressly consider to be a misrepresentation, and which functions to give social capital to the group associated with one term and to delegitimise the social group associated with the other term, tells us all we need to know about how power is actually operating in this instance…Or, to cut a long story short, people with penises get to name and define people without penises. AGAIN.

So anyway yes, you were telling us about how cis women are oppressed but not really…. Or maybe we should give the mic to Kathleen instead?

KS: Well, I’m very happy to recognise that we live in a patriarchal sexist society…

THAT’S how you do it.

…I think we do, and since we do, I think we need to retain categories and subcategories that do important explanatory work, and one of those is ‘women,’ ‘natal females,’ you can call them cis if you like, but, if cis is taken to mean ‘happy with the socially imposed gender stereotypes that are put on them as soon as they’re born,’ then most women do not feel cis, if you mean some really strong feeling of being a woman, then most women do not feel like that, they don’t, they just are, they don’t feel…It’s really really difficult in these discussion to find some commonality that all trans women for instance, and all natal women, share, that could explain, how they were both simultaneously members of the same group… and, the even more radical claim that’s being made by you Sally, that there’s no underlying differences, between those two groups in terms of social treatment. And it’s my view that being female, um, being socially, um, perceived as a woman, imposes a significant causal predictor on you, to be the subject of all sorts of discrimination, we see this in the sexual violence statistics, we see this in the pay-gap…it’s not a gender pay-gap, it’s a sex pay-gap, it’s to do with reproduction, which is something that women bear…

SH: I fundamentally disagree

Of course you do. And this is the absolute screaming core of the problem. Because you are committed to an ideology that means you cannot recognise that there is any difference between trans women and women, and therefore, you cannot recognise that female people are oppressed qua female people – that is, on the basis of their sex. And that makes you, simply, an un-feminist. Because my dear Professor, like everything, being a feminist is not actually a matter of identification, it’s a matter of practice.

JG: Why do you disagree Sally?

SH: I think I think trans women um, also, um, if not sometimes more so suffer harassment, suffer violence, suffer sexual disadvantage, um, in society…

1. But not because they are female.

2. Stop it with your baseless hierarchy of suffering lady. You think playing people’s wounds off against each other is going to get us somewhere good, you dangerous idiot???

….and for me regulating the category of woman, arguing around, y’know, who can, and who can’t belong, um, to that category, based on an idea of gendered authenticity, or realness, is not the way forward…

Male people commit violence against gender non-conforming people, and especially against perceived femininity in male people, because of the structure of patriarchal gender. It has not now, and had never, had anything to do with feminist women believing that mammals are sexually dimorphic and that women are oppressed on the basis of their sex. Stop blaming women for men’s violence and stop blaming feminists for patriarchal gender.

Also, this thing about the hierarchy of real and fake. Again, this is a conflation of a cultural hierarchy with a given difference. Yes, there are instances in which we have distributed value by constructing some things as more authentic than other things, and then there is the fact that there just exists a difference between real things and imitations. Fake fur is not somehow real fur, and diamanté is not somehow real diamond, because you have decided to believe that all judgements about ‘realness’ and ‘fakeness’ are only cultural hierarchies of value. I actually agree with you that it is unhelpful, and unnecessarily derogatory, to frame the difference between trans women and women as that between ‘realness’ and ‘fakeness’ or ‘imitation.’ However, it is in your interests to insist that the difference must be framed in that way, and then to use that to claim that anyone insisting on a difference is being derogatory.  I would simply say that there are female people, that there are male people who identify as women, that male people are not female people, and that sex is politically important. These are not attributions of value. They are just empirical facts.

Lastly, you have absolutely no empirical proof that this derogatory system of value is the reason for male people’s violence against trans women. Why should we accept that this violence is created by the belief that trans women are ‘fake’ women (which then allows you to apparently blame feminists for male violence), rather than the belief that these are male people who are performing femininity in a way that violates the first rule of patriarchal masculinity? (which would mean that gender abolitionist feminism would actually ameliorate violence against trans women, a fact which could, and should, be the basis of our solidarity)

JG: Yeah, again, we’ve got to make this conversation relevant to everybody, and I’m particularly aware that many of our listeners have had tough lives for one reason or another, they may well be even now still facilitating the lives of others, possibly they’ve done nothing but that for the last fifty years, and, it’s hardly surprising that many of those women feel that their hard won rights are somewhat vulnerable at the moment Sally to the progress of some other, for example, trans women. What do you say to that?

Top marks to JG for all of this, especially for bringing the issue of the sexed distribution of care work into the conversation here. I am reminded of this quote from a feature on Martine Rothblatt, in which it was made pretty obvious that the woman with the vagina was still the one responsible for looking after everyone’s material (and probably emotional) needs.

SH: I completely disagree…

That female people do the majority of unpaid domestic and emotional labour in the world? That’s not a matter of opinion Professor.

I think, y’know, gender politics and progressive politics can’t, y’know, be kind of based on a hierarchy of difference in this way…

How many times do we need to tell you this??? Differences are not hierarchies. They’re differences. If you refuse to recognise difference you refuse to give recognition to the particularly of individual lives, and the way those lives are shaped by membership of social groups, and the needs and political interests of people who belong to those social groups. That is not progress and it is not justice. It is erasure and domination.

…y’know, and we’ve seen this before, it’s very very dangerous, we’ve seen this before in feminism, in relation to the position of Black women, and in relation to the position of working class women, y’know, I think we absolutely as feminists have got to move away from a politics which is based around perceptions of realness, and that white, cis women such as myself, such as Kathleen, have got to give up some privilege here…

Let’s unpack some intersectionality burble then shall we Sally? First, the imputation that Black women and working-class women are a subset of women whose womanhood is ‘less real’ that white women’s womanhood is bullshit, and politically motivated and offensive bullshit. There have always been and remain tensions within feminism along race and class lines, and there probably will always be, because these intersections are massively important political and social differences that cut though the body of women. We will, I hope, always continue to wrestle with these issues, to give them space, and to endeavour to work with them in order to best articulate our shared interests as women, and to allow for the expression of our differences. As I have said before, it is not easy, and it shouldn’t be. None of this translates into an idea that Black women or working-class women are somehow not women, and Crenshaw never intended intersectionality to be used to fracture the class of female people in order to include male people. The fact that Black females are female does not mean that male people are female, and you really need to stop and have a long hard look at yourself and what the fuck you’re saying. Frankly, this makes my blood boil. And I know from listening to many Black women that they find it enraging – both because their womanhood is being undermined, and they’re being used as a political prop in an argument, and maybe even more so, because it’s being done with a veneer of woke anti-racism, while being fucking racist, and the women doing it won’t listen to them when they call it out.

Secondly, can you imagine anything more white and middle class and privileged than thinking you can avoid sex-based oppression by identifying out of it? What kind of life have you lived, that you respond to a well-grounded observation about the distribution of care-work (let alone femicide, or poverty, or lack of education, or FGM, or forced marriage, or sexual slavery, or any other of the number of sex-based violences that disproportionately affect women with less economic and racial power, or from cultures with more rigid patriarchal practices than our own), and turn around, and say that you are fighting for the interests of working class and women of colour by denying the analysis of the basis of their exploitation????? This whole towering pile of bullshit is precisely an artefact of privilege. Walk into any Gender Studies class in the country if you have any doubts. Over to Kathleen…

KS: I am exactly here to fight on behalf of the interests of Black and working-class female women, it is them that bear the disproportionate brunt of inequality in our society, and if we lose the ability to name those people as such, and to talk about the causal factors that lead to their predicament, then we won’t be able to fight for them, so it’s precisely dangerous, the kind of rhetoric that’s coming out of the new gender identity doctrine…

JG: Sally, can I just, I mean, if it were a level playing field, why do we not hear as much from trans men as we do from trans women?

BOOM. Answer that question while avoiding granting recognition to the political importance of sex if you will Sally?

SH: *Sharp intake of breath through nose* I think, trans men are often ignored, okay

OKAY!!!!!???

JG: Well, we don’t ignore them…

I’m a little bit in love with JG by this point…

Well anyway, carry on…

SH: I think that trans men are not seen to be a threat…

Correct. Because they’re not. Because they’re female.

…by some sections of feminism…um, in the way that trans women are…y’know, there has been lots of critique of trans men from second wave feminists, such as Sheila Jeffreys, who argued that trans men are simply trying to get, y’know, they’re women who are trying to get male privilege, so, y’know, trans men have been critiqued and attacked by some sections of feminism, but, in the culture that we’re living in at the moment, in contemporary times, um, it is trans women, who’ve become the bodies of fear, um, for some feminists…

Yup. Because this whole situation has been created by feminists and has absolutely nothing to do with the politics of the trans rights movement, the nature of their demands, their attempts to erase women, or their persistent efforts to enforce their agenda by using the immemorial tactics of coercive control. And none of this has anything to do with the fact that many of the people directing this movement are late transitioning people who were born and socialised as males, or that we live in a culture that grants power to those people, precisely because they are male. None of this would be happening were it not being driven by male interests in changing the definition of woman in order to colonise it. Trans men do not have the social power to redefine and enforce that redefinition on men – as is amply demonstrated by the fact that the language around the naming of men remains implacably untouched by this whole situation.  This is precisely a demonstration of the very fact that it purports to deny – that is, the existence of sex, and its political importance. THAT’s the answer you were looking for Sally.

As for the ‘bodies of fear.’ Male people are a statistical danger to women. That is not a construction, and it is not a projection you can nattily analogize to xenophobia. It not an ungrounded fear of the ‘foreign,’ through which women create an illusory sense of safety or security by projecting their fears onto the ‘other’ outside. Nothing about the analysis of male violence serves to make us feel safe, so you can put your garbled post-structuralist misappropriation away right now. Rather, our fear of male people is based on the fact that our lives are blighted and controlled by the violence, and the threat of violence, visited on us by male people, and, as any feminist knows, that violence is not merely accidental or natural. It is structural, inculcated, and used as a form of social control. And if you want to dispute that, you can, any minute now, start arguing like an MRA, and we’ll take what remnants are left of your feminist card back lickity-split.

JG: Okay, last word to you Kathleen, if you can be brief, I’d be grateful…

KS: Well, trans women are not inherently dangerous, and no one on my side of the debate thinks that, but we recognise that they are male, biologically, and socialised as males, and that makes it more likely, statistically, that some of them will be violence, sexually violent, towards females…

SH: I completely disagree, and would say..

KS: Well I know you do but…the stats bear it out, so…let’s go to the evidence…

SH: Trans women are women

You have argument and I have MANTRAS! Take that!

KS: Well, you can keep saying that…

Indeed. And they will, and it won’t become any truer, or have any bearing on the statistics.

But the evidence…I’m not even talking about that, I’m talking about how this is practically, um… realized in society, and we have to make decisions about how to order spaces, how to…

SH: But who makes those decisions…?

Good question Sally! You are supporting a political movement that is insisting that those decisions be made on the basis of an unscientific, ideological mantra, and only in the interests of trans women, and that anyone who questions that, or who claims that this is a rights conflict, or that women should be a stakeholder in the making of those decision, is a bigot. So yeah, who does get to make those decisions? Shall we move on to talking about that?

KS: And to keep repeating ‘trans women are women’ won’t get us anywhere.

BOOM.

prince mike

TOTAL DEMOLITION: That wins you a Prince, Professor Stock xx

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29 comments

  1. I’d considered cis/trans as being similar to gay/straight; a way to point out there are other people, with other experiences to consider rather than something particularly malign.

    1. Yeah, it is malign, because it attributes a gender identity to many women in a manner contrary to their political and theoretical beliefs, is an act of naming of an oppressed class of persons which they explicitly reject and against their will (that is, it’s an act of domination), and it functions to posit female people as the oppressors of trans women, and is being used to buttress the assault on our sex based protections. None of which was being done with the use of the gay/straight binary. So, if you want to consider is the same go ahead, but I think you’re wrong, and you’re going to have to come up with better than a weak analogy to convince me otherwise.

      1. Also, didn’t see the ‘I’d’ rather than the ‘I’ – so, if you were meaning to suggest you’d changed your mind based on what you read, then I apologise fulsomely for being an ass.

      2. Well, only the aggressive tone at the end has shades of ‘ass’ about it :). Cis isn’t a term I’ve like or use for myself. I am still unpicking why.

  2. Thanks to you Doc Jane and Doc Stock for utter demolition of the illiterate Sally, y’know? like yeah? Ok? right? No Sadly Hines, you’re wrong, so wrong. And agree, JG let her hang herself – well hung, oops 😬

  3. Excellent work, both yourself and Professor Stock.

    One of the things I keep coming back to is that declaration/slogan: “transwomen are women”. At first I thought the request for recogniton was a bit like agreeing that one’s seven year old is indeed an astronaut. Which in many ways, etc…

    As I learned more about what was going on, and the poor thinking and conceptualising being thrown around, I came to see it as an attempt to both claim something and disavow it.

    Going by trans ideology, a woman is a person who feels themselves to be so. Who ‘identifies as’. This is the only acceptable definition of ‘woman’, and the only one that will allow the slogan to actually work.

    (Leaving aside the difficulties as to quite how one ‘feels like’ a woman, or indeed a man, or what is being ‘felt’ or ‘identified with’ if the only definition is ‘a person who feels like a woman’. Just what a woman is is never really arrived at, like the comic figure who kicks their hat away every time they reach down to pick it up)

    So, when we are told “transwomen are women”, what is being said is nothing more than “bepenised persons who feel like women are persons who feel like women”. Which is true.

    Only, if one were to respond to a Harrop or Hines declaration of “transwomen are women” with, “yes, I agree, bepenised persons who etc” – I don’t think it would be well received. It would come across as taking the piss, which it would be, because the very notion itself is taking the piss. It is its own satire.

    Because that’s not the meaning they’re reaching for. Their definition remains unsatisfying. It is without substance, and those who use and say that slogan know it. There is a bait-and-switch going on. For what they say to have weight and meaning, they are relying on what they disavow: that a woman is, as we all know, as is known at the social and cultural level, an adult human female.

  4. I stumbled across an expression which i shall use as the riposte to their mantra “trans women are women”.
    >drum roll< *** JUST BECAUSE YOU SAY SO, DOESN'T MAKE IT SO. ***
    I've been on the search for something pithy and succinct as a response, to rob them of the last word, which is what happens at the end of all discussions. We've had no comeback (till now😉) to counter that punchline.
    I found your commentary very helpful thanks. My understanding has been expanded, still on the learning curve!

  5. I find it interesting that you highlight points in the debate where Sally Hines stutters, but not those where Kathleen Stock does exactly the same.

    Is that accidental, or an attempt to discredit Sally’s arguments via an ad hominem attack?

    1. No, it’s because I don’t think Kathleen stuttered… she said ‘er’ and ‘um’ a fair bit, which I dutifully transcribed, but that’s a natural part of speech, and doesn’t indicate anything other than thinking… and her locution got a touch tied-up at the end, which was where her and Sally started talking across each other, and they were trying to wrap it up, so I think she felt pressured. That is, there was nothing in Kathleen’s speech patterns which indicated a lack of clarity, or conviction, in her thinking…and from how most people seem to have responded to what they heard, that is what other people overwhelmingly heard as well. But I do find it interesting that after having given such a detailed analytic breakdown of the arguments, you seem to want to suggest I’m relying on ad hominems.

  6. It has just occurred to me, if biology theories about sex determination are taken to complicate our folk-understandings of what sex is then surely the General Theory of Relativity must have some implications for our folk understandings of what chronological age is?

    In fact, the motivation to cling so tightly to a Newtonian concept of time must be a bigoted desire to illegitimate the lived experience of the trans-aged!!

  7. It’s complicated.

    Yep, it sure is – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mostly-male-woman-gives-birth-to-twins-in-medical-miracle-10033528.html

    “binary” – burble hierarchy burble.

    Nope. It literally only means “relating to, composed of, or involving two things” so, yeah, in context male and female.

    When I realised this was a work of the imagination rather than science, I stopped reading. I mean, attributing a hierarchy to binary is a fundamental linguistic error…a basic binary 101 (joke intended) rookie mistake.

  8. So bloody racist that it presumes all non white race can’t tell the difference between male and female and that we exist in some kind of bucolic innocence that we don’t separate people according to their sexes! Bloody hell we’re human too and suffer from the same human condition as white people too! If great apes can tell the difference between Male and female apes then we are more than capable of structuring our cultures around these differences! We’re not some type of aliens plunked in the middle of the wilderness waiting for some enlightened white man to discover us and pointed our differences to us! How bloody patronizing!

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